Huawei launches own operating system to rival Android

HarmonyOS will apply for both smartphones and smart home devices

Huawei has officially unveiled HarmonyOS today - the operating system it was rumored to be developing to replace its reliance on Android. The highly-anticipated software is considered crucial for the tech group's survival as it confronts a looming White House ban on US companies selling technology products to Huawei which could remove its access to Google's Android operating system.

While outlining the differences between HarmonyOS, which will be known as Hongmeng in China, and Android, the CEO of Huawei’s consumer business group Richard Yu said that company's software was far more "future oriented" and designed to be "more smooth and secure", in comparison to from Android and Apple operating systems. During a press conference, Yu also highlighted that HarmonyOS would have the ability to scale across different kinds of devices, unlike its rivals.

This means that the microkernel-based distributed OS, could be used in everything from smartphones to smart speakers, wearables, and in-vehicle systems to create a shared ecosystem across devices, similar to Google’s experimental Fuchsia operating system, which is designed to run on various form-factors. The first version is expected to launch later this year in company's homeland China in all of Huawei's smart screen products before expanding across a range of smart devices including wearable technology over the next three years. In the meantime, the operating system will be released as an open-source platform worldwide to encourage adoption.

As Europost reminds, there’s been a lot of speculation about Huawei’s in-house operating system ever since Google suspended the company’s Android license back in May, following the US government’s decision to put Huawei on the Entity List. Huawei has, in fact, made no secret that it’s been working on its own OS, but until now the extent to which it would be able to act as a substitute for Android was unclear. And it is still so.

Even though HarmonyOS now has an official name, it still has some major hurdles to overcome. Huawei is expecting developers to recompile their apps for this new OS, with the ability to code once and deploy across multiple devices with different screen layouts, interactions, and more. Huawei says developers can compile a range of languages into machine code in a single environment, but it’s unclear exactly how easy that will be for them.

Nevertheless, apart from Google's Android, the only other popular operating system is Apple's iOS, available exclusively on the iPhone. Microsoft pulled the plug on its Windows Phone platform earlier this year, and Samsung's Tizen system is barely known compared with Android and iOS. Without access to the full version of Android or the popular services of Google - not to mention the many applications available on the Google Play store - Huawei may also have trouble convincing consumers outside China to buy its phones and use the new OS.

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